While human beings may be considered one of the dominant species on the planet, it isn’t due to physical perfection. The ability to walk upright comes with the caveat of developing back pain later in life, largely because the S-shape of the spine isn’t ideal for carrying our weight. Larger skulls make childbirth physically challenging, particularly since pelvises are shrinking.
“If you take care of it, your spine will get you through to about 40 or 50,” said anatomist Bruce Latimer, according to a report by IFL Science. “After that, you’re on your own.”
Along with a less than ideal spine, the structure of the human throat makes choking a risk, and our eyesight and hearing deteriorate.
As part of a new television series on BBC4, Professor Alice Roberts examined the human form for weaknesses as well as members of the animal kingdom to determine their strengths. Her goal was to design a superhuman, locating traits in other species that can overcome our weaknesses.
“Inspired by dogs, cats, cephalopods, fish, swans and chimps, my model has a better heart with more arteries than a human being, lungs that are more efficient, eyes with no blind spots, ears that pick up sound better, legs that are more efficient, and reptilian skin which reacts fast to block damaging ultraviolet rays,” said Roberts during an interview.
On the show, Can Science Make Me Perfect?, Roberts and a team from the Science Museum in London create a 3D model of the “perfect body,” borrowing parts from other animals to produce the end result.
“I traded agility for speed when I altered my legs and replaced my feet – and that means my chances of climbing a mountain are zero,” said Roberts. “But I think it’s worth it – even though I screamed when I saw the final 3D model of my creation.”
“On reflection, I don’t like the look of the bird-like legs. But having given birth to two children, I’m a big fan of having the kangaroo’s pouch.”
The resulting design is meant to overcome the many of the challenges associated with the human form, even if it is somewhat disturbing to see.